Southmoore Football Players Rebuilding Lives After Tornado
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Southmoore Sabercats returned to the football field this last week for the first time since the deadly tornado. Twenty-two of the boys lost their homes when the EF-5 tornado swept through Moore.
Despite the devastation off the field, the team is ready to get back between the lines. They were in Tulsa this weekend at a summer camp that helped players with football - and with life.
"It's honestly just helped a lot just to get away from everything and focus on football again," said player Brandon Garrison.
"This is the first time that we've been able to hook it up with pads on since the tornado hit," said Coach Jeff Brickman.
The EF-5 tornado that tore through Moore carved a mile-wide path through town and left its mark on the Southmoore football team.
"We knew there would be some bad weather, so we canceled practice," Brickman said. "We were just watching film with our position coaches, and they came on the intercom like they did with a lot of the tornado drills."
"They had a screen set up actually showing the tornado on the news, and I could see the tornado was right behind us. I mean that was just crazy thinking it was right behind us. I was just trying to keep calm," said Sabercat Justin James.
"I went and watched the tornado out of the back of the school out a window, and it was just unbelievable. I thought it was going to hit us. It came about 300 yards from the school," Coach Brickman said.
The school escaped, but Southmoore's players weren't as lucky. Twenty-two of them lost their homes. Brandon Garrison lived due east near Plaza Towers Elementary School.
"I had to go the back way into my neighborhood and park my truck because it was blocked probably a quarter-mile back and just run and try and figure out where my house was," he said.
"As I was running down the street I was like which one is my street? I don't recognize anything, by any means, because the school was destroyed, all the houses around it were destroyed. It was just crazy," Garrison said.
Justin James looked for familiar landmarks.
"I didn't know where to go at all," James said. I went down the road, down Santa Fe, and there was a 7-11 down there, and a Walgreens. 7-11, I couldn't see nothing. Everything was just torn to pieces and stuff."
After the tornado hit, the team set up a donation page on its website. The Sabercats have raised around $60,000 so far, with help coming from football teams around the country."
"There's a team from Olathe Northwest. They drove all the way down from Olathe, Kansas. They brought money, and water, and replenishables and all that, but they also printed 300 T-shirts that had our logo on the front, and on the back it said 'From one brother to another,' and it had our logo and their logo on the bottom," said Coach Jeff Brickman.
"I don't know any coaches there. I don't know anybody that lives there. I don't have any relatives there, and for them to do something like that, I thought was tremendous."
The destruction from May 20 is still fresh in their minds, but as the sun sets on another day of training camp, the Southmoore Sabercats are one day closer to normal: improving in football and in life.